Kwame Kilpatrick files appeal to vacate conviction, wants new trial


DETROIT – Kwame Kilpatrick has formally appealed his corruption conviction and wants a new trial.

The 80-page appeal filing was submitted Wednesday by Kilpatrick's attorney, Harold Gurewitz.

[Web extra] Read Kwame Kilpatrick's appeal filing

[Web extra] Appendix from Kilpatrick's appeal

Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison last October after being convicted of multiple corruption charges, including racketeering.

The appeal cites the 44-year-old's denial of "his right to a conflict-free representation guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment," conflicts of interest between counsel attorneys, the allowance of testimony by case agents that "lacked foundation" and restitution that was not authorized.


--Sketch by Jerry Lemenu

Agents who pored over bank accounts and credit cards said Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his salary during his time as mayor.

At his sentencing, Kilpatrick said he was sorry but denied stealing money from the city.

"I just want people to know that I am incredibly remorseful for the conditions of the city and any role, any part I played in it," he said. "The government talked about stealing from the city. Wow ...I've never done that, your Honor."

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Story: Prosecution: Kilpatrick lived large off Civic Fund money

Kilpatrick quit office in 2008 because of a different scandal involving sexually explicit text messages and an extramarital affair with his chief of staff.


--Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty

Statement from Kilpatrick family:

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to order that he be given a new trial in his federal convictions. His brief on appeal was filed with the Sixth Circuit this week.

Mr. Kilpatrick was convicted in federal court on 24 charges in March 2013. In October, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds sentenced him to 28 years in prison.
According to Mr. Kilpatrick's appeals attorney, Harold Z. Gurewitz, Mr. Kilpatrick has requested a new trial because the court - for the sake of expediency - denied him his right to fundamental constitutional protections of a fair trial and to representation by attorneys who are effective and free from conflicts of interest.

Mr. Kilpatrick has asked the appeals court to send his case back for a new trial because the trial judge refused to disqualify his trial attorneys, James Thomas and Michael Naughton, as it should have done, because they had serious conflicts of interest. Months before the trial started, they joined the law firm - as of counsel attorneys - that was suing Mr. Kilpatrick in federal court for the same claimed RICO violations on which Thomas and Naughton were defending him in his criminal case. It is a conflict of interest when attorneys associated with a law firm sue a client while others defend him on criminal charges for the same alleged acts.

This egregious conflict, of simultaneous representation, caused numerous issues in the criminal trial, which significantly hindered and prejudiced the defense of Mr. Kilpatrick.

The trial judge, was made aware of this issue on the record, prior to trial. However, without any investigation of these matters, made a rash decision to continue.

The most basic obligations of criminal defense lawyers- protected by the Sixth Amendment - include the duty of loyalty, a duty to avoid conflicts of interest, and the overarching duty to be an advocate for their client's cause. Mr. Kilpatrick was denied those basic protections when the court refused his request for a new attorney BEFORE his trial started.

Mr. Kilpatrick has also asked the court to reverse his conviction because the prosecutors at his trial were allowed to repeatedly use the testimony of Government criminal investigators. These investigators were called to testify 23 times during the trial, to narrate their lengthy presentation of complex evidence to the jury. The agents were allowed repeatedly to testify about every aspect of the case based on information known to them, but not otherwise presented to the jury. They were never qualified as experts. They were allowed to give their interpretations of the evidence for the jury throughout the trial.

Mr. Kilpatrick's trial lasted almost six months, from September 2012, to March 2013. The record of the trial includes over 13,000 pages of transcripts of witness testimony, and thousands of exhibits. Much of the testimony concerned complicated contracting procedures of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, which the Government claimed had been used to favor Detroit contractor, Bobby Ferguson. The Government relied on Mr. Kilpatrick's communications with Ferguson and others by text messages or wire-taped conversations and the agents "interpretations," instead of admissible evidence to support their indictment.

On several occasions during trial, over the defense objections, the agents discussed conclusions that were drawn from "notes," which were never presented during any court proceeding or in any evidence during trial.

Also over objections by the defense, the prosecutors were allowed to discuss completely unrelated cases and individuals from other proceedings that were never presented as evidence or even subject matter in this case.

The testifying agents were allowed to go so far in their interpretations at trial that they testified to one-word text message responses on several occasions during the trial. For example "Cool", which the agent testified meant an agreement by Kilpatrick to commit a crime.

After the Government files its response to Mr. Kilpatrick, the court will set the case for an oral argument before a panel of three judges who will then deliberate and render their decision. It is anticipated that the appeal will be completed in the first half of 2015.

Kilpatrick has maintained his innocence on the charges of which he was convicted.